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Is Your Probiotic Pill Worthless? A Simple Test To Find Out At Home!

When I attended the Natural Products Expo this year I noticed that there were dozens of newly launched products that were fortified with probiotics – they were everywhere! There is no disputing that probiotics (good bacteria) are good for you, but I have to question the viability of the probiotics in these products and whether they are any better than eating naturally fermented foods. I try to add fermented foods to my diet often and I eat them almost every day because I’ve found them to be the best way to feed my body probiotics. 

This is essential because most of our food has been pasteurized, irradiated, or chemically treated to kill bugs – but this also kills the good stuff. Our soil is depleted of good bacteria with the overuse of synthetic pesticides and other chemical contamination. Certain substances in our food have also been suspected to cause leaky gut syndrome – which creates tiny little holes in our digestive system organs that leak out the good bacteria we need to stay healthy and keep our immune system strong.

This is why we absolutely must do everything to restore the good bacteria in our guts. Historically, food was often preserved with fermentation and traditional diets often consisted of raw and fermented foods that contained a healthy dose of good bacteria. The fermentation process creates good bacteria that work like a little army in your gut helping to defend you from various ailments

Besides eating fermented foods regularly, I also take a probiotic supplement. I like to take one as insurance, just to make sure that my body is getting all of the healthy probiotics that it needs. This is also super important when traveling, when fermented foods may not be as easy to come by and at least I know that I’ve got a probiotic pill as a backup.


That being said, not all probiotic supplements are created equally. Some on the market have been shown to have inaccurate labeling and may not contain all of the probiotics that they say they do. To gain more information on this, I reached out to Dr. Amy Shah, M.D., a member of my advisory council, and asked her to compile her research into a guest post for us. Dr. Shah is a practicing physician, specializing in Allergy & Immunology and Internal Medicine. The following is what she has to say about probiotic pills, how to choose the best supplements, plus a simple test that you can do at home to test your probiotics to see if they are viable! 

Here’s some news: your probiotic pill is probably not doing anything for you.

I know that’s a bold statement but it’s true.


First, probiotic pills are under regulated – meaning no one is really making sure that what you see is actually what you get. I will explain more below.

Secondly, the studies supporting probiotics are weak. For all intents and purposes a probiotic study just has to show that its strain of probiotic comes out in the stool after you ingest it. Does that mean it did anything for you while it was traveling down your intestines? No.

Lastly, food based probiotics (fermented foods etc) seem to be a more potent and effective way to reseed the gut. In other words, why use pills when there are countless, delicious fermented food options out there?

But listen – if you are going to take probiotics then I recommend some that are MUCH better than others.


Currently probiotic manufacturers do not have to specify on their product labels the strains they use in probiotic products or specify the number of live microbes of each strain deliver though the end of shelf life. So even an expiration date is not mandatory!

Additionally, probiotics fall into multiple categories within FDA regulations (food, food additive, supplement and drug) so “expertise is spread unevenly across multiple centers at FDA without a single authoritative agency voice on the issue”.

So probiotics operate in an unregulated marketplace. Label claims are often inaccurate, as is the amount of bacteria the probiotics are said to contain. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to know just what you’re getting. One study tested 14 commercial probiotics and found that only one contained the exact species listed on the label.

If you are buying probiotics from your local drug store shelf chances are you are buying nothing more than fluff.

Considering probiotics are delicate live bacteria – they can die during high heat processing, during the packaging process, or while living on the shelves of the store.

2. Did you know that the STUDIES supporting most Probiotics are weak?

There are gaps in current research, concerns about quality of research, and ethical and consumer issues related to under-regulated, under-enforced product claims.

A probiotic pill or product is not technically a probiotic unless the bacteria have been shown to be viable when ingested so most probiotics out there are not actually probiotics.

Even the American Academy of Microbiology has said that “at present, the quality of probiotics available to consumers in food products around the world is unreliable.”

Another issue is that the probiotic listed in the ingredients may not “seed” your gut meaning you are just taking it and then pooping it out. Think of a seed that is planted in a barren garden – you can plant the seeds but they won’t grow without water and sunlight. Similarly, probiotics cannot proliferate and live in your gut if you take a probiotic pill but then don’t eat foods that support its growth.

There are tons of probiotics out there and many with accompanying studies that support their efficacy – but ultimately, most probiotic supplements are bogus and a waste of your money.

3. Food-based Probiotics are preferred.

You can effectively reap the benefits of probiotics by drinking kombucha or coconut kefir, which you can actually make yourself with kefir grains. If that sounds like too big an undertaking, choose an organic low sugar kombucha from your health food store.

Probiotic – or fermented – foods provide a great amount of nutrients and phytochemicals. Sauerkraut and fermented vegetables are SUPER easy (and cheap!) to make yourself. Literally get a jar, add water, salt, veggies, cover – put in a cupboard for 3-10 days. Poof! Probiotics.

There are also prebiotic foods – foods that gut bacteria eat and need to proliferate. Chicory root, artichoke, dandelion greens, asparagus are all good prebiotic options. The key here is to get fiber all the way to the good bacteria that live in the last parts of our colon. 

However, if you’re unable to take in these foods, you can get some of the needed nutrients from a supplement.

If you do decide to take pills:

I personally use a brand called VSL-3 (non-GMO) containing 112.5 billion bacteria per capsule. The dried sachet form has level I evidence of effectiveness (highest level possible for medical studies) in treating Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases.

Make sure to take the recommended dosage and to take the supplement on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and before bed. Look for a probiotic with an expiration date and one that contains a wide range of bacteria strains, most importantly:

  • Acidophilus: Naturally found in mouth, intestine and vagina (often prescribed for yeast infections). Promotes nutrient absorption and facilitates dairy digestion.
  • Longum: Anti-inflammatory, protects gut lining, keep toxins and pathogens out of the gut.
  • Bifidum: Found in small and large intestines. Necessary for optimal digestion within digestive tract.

The jury is out as to if refrigerated probiotics are necessarily “better” but for sure refrigerate them once opened.

Home test: You can test probiotic supplements at home by adding them to about 4 oz of cold milk and leaving them for 24-48 hours to see if it reacts with the milk. If it curdles, or becomes a yogurt like consistency – then it’s viable.

Another test is checking your stool for bacteria before and after taking a supplement or changing your diet. Companies like Ubiome are doing this.

So, there it is – do you take probiotics? Why or why not?

Amy Shah, M.D

Dr. Amy Shah is a specialist in Allergy & Immunology and Internal Medicine. She pursued her medical training at Columbia University Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconness/Harvard Medical School, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Cornell University. Prior to graduating with honors in research, she worked in the Channing Laboratory at Harvard University looking at the health effects of heavy metals on the body. She is now in a private medical practice. To learn more about Dr. Shah, visit

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152 responses to “Is Your Probiotic Pill Worthless? A Simple Test To Find Out At Home!

  1. I take VSL#3 and it is the only thing that helps me manage ulcerative colitis. I was on Rx from my gastro and he kept increasing the dosage of canasa on me and it did not improve anything for me. My GI doc did not even tell me about VSL#3. I was searching online for a long time for things I can do to help myself as I have not found a doctor who believes in nutritional therapy or that perhaps I was eating things my body was intolerant to. While VSL is expensive, I have found it to be helpful and worth every penny. I no longer take any Rx. For those interested, Costco has the best pricing, around $46 a bottle. I have paid as much as $80 for a bottle of 60 pills and I take 4 a day.

    1. Totally agree with all you’ve said! I’ve taken VSL #3 for 12 years for my UC. I do not need any other medication. My insurance used to cover them but then decided they were a ‘medical’ food and stopped.

      1. I had tried many of the doctor’s prescriptions Lialda and kefir and saurkraut and other goofy things—still had problems with my UC. The nurse where I check in told me that VSL-3 might offer some relief. I found that my insurance would cover a portion of VSL#3DS. I took it for 4 days and was having much improvement. When I saw the MD there he didn’t know the exact mechanism of why it did help so much. It is working for me or at least helping more than anything else.

      1. When you make yogurt you don’t refrigerate it, so my guess is no, don’t put in the fridge while doing the testing.

  2. VSL#3 is great but way too strong for most people. The article mentions 10 billion cultures but it’s actually 100 billion.
    Some people with autoimmunity can actually react negatively to a very strong probiotic. I wish they would make a weaker version for the general public.
    I have IBS and I find it a little too strong for me, as I also have fibromyalgia.
    I have used some brands that I like such as Gutpro and Megadophilous but I find it better to have a few and switch off every few days.
    fos, a prebiotic, can be problematic for many people including myself so be careful if they add a prebiotic such as fos, inulin and chicory

    1. Check out Dr Hulda Clark “cureforalldisease” I had simular issues since being on her clenses and the zapper all my systems are gone…kris

    2. Steve, I too have Fibromyalgia, IBS as long as others issues, I have never found a good probiotic, which all ones do you use?

    1. Dr please stop the negative information…..allergy : asthma is just that ……Bacteria / Histamine there is your problem….if you have the proper species your body will simply not send Histamine to you respiratory system ….if there is substance that can cause harm in the atmosphere your bodies defensive system (bactetia)send a message to shut down the respiratory system, Histamine is then produced and what we call a asthma attack/symptom starts.
      This is a early primitive defensive action by the body to defend itself.
      Thru evolution. OTHER species emerged .there job was to cancel the whole process……..if certain bacteria are missing / extinct in your body there will be no signal sent to stop the Histamine from being created ……There is your ASTHMA………written on my phone
      .finger now hurts and can’t see what I’m writing….hope it helps…..Bacteria and viruses can do medical miracles……unfortunately they have a bad rap …… $$$$$$big pharm…….. .People need cures not relief from a symptom…

      Guillermo Vazquez ceo
      Sun & Earth Microbiology

      1. We just attended a dinner where the sales pitch was for a probiotic system that hooks into your AC/Heat system and squirts Bacillus Ferment/Probiotic which is then distributed throughout your house, covering every surface and is also in the air you breathe. The tech came to the house for a free consult, and went out to his vehicle and got a bottle of the stuff upon my request for more info. The bottle was room temperature, no shelf life date, the bottle was used (and dirty) with it’s lettering worn off some, no date for when it was actually opened. The ingredients listed were Bacillus Ferment and water. Anybody got any input or information on this they would like to share?

    1. Jarrow is upper mid range, on the level of Nature’s Way, Doctor’s Best, Rainbow Light, etc. Dependable. I take Circuit 90. Higher end to me would be Nutrigold, New Chapter, Garden of Life, etc. I’m sure there are other great brands. I worked this stuff in a Whole Foods like local store. Many may know more and many may disagree.

      1. Thank you for your recommendations Daniel. Just a note about Garden of Life, it is owned by Nestle, which is a company that has not had a very good track record.
        A good prebiotic is non-gmo potato starch! It is cheap and effective and tasteless. Stir into water and drink or add to gravy, soup etc as a thickener. Google it’s benefits.
        Also, as someone else has commented, parasites can cause stomach issues and a parasite cleanse may be helpful. Many people have them and are not aware of it. Be well and healthy!

  3. Yes. Do you leave the capsule intact and do you keep the milk cold or just start with cold milk? Thank you.

    1. I checked the label of Raw Probiotics for Women by Garden of Life and it includes Acidophilus, Longum, & Bifidum, but also 32 probiotic strains and 85 billion live cultures. Sounds good to me, but may not be for Food Babe.

      1. Jarrow is upper mid range, on the level of Nature’s Way, Doctor’s Best, Rainbow Light, etc. Dependable. I take Circuit 90. Higher end to me would be Nutrigold, New Chapter, Garden of Life, etc. I’m sure there are other great brands. I worked this stuff in a Whole Foods like local store. Many may know more and many may disagree.

  4. See what Labdoor has to say about probiotics that they evaluated. They rate them for label accuracy, purity, nutritional value, efficacy and saftey. They are an independent research group with no ties to any company. Pure research.
    Those below are just top rated and many below these. Check out their website

    Highest Quality Best Value
    All Lactobacillus Bifidobacterium Bacillus Streptococcus Saccharomyces Enterococcus Pediococcus Lactococcus
    01 Product Image Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care A
    02 Product Image Life & Food Ultra Probiotic-50 A
    03 Product Image NOW Foods Probiotic-10 A
    04 Product Image Naturo Sciences Probiotics 15 A
    05 Product Image Healthy Origins Probiotic A
    06 Product Image Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics A
    07 Product Image Nutrition Now PB8 A
    08 Product Image Sedona Labs iFlora Multi-Probiotic A-
    09 Product Image Culturelle Digestive Health Probiotic A-
    10 Product Image GNC Ultra 50 Probiotic Complex A-
    • • •
    11 Product Image Puritan’s Pride Premium Probiotic 10 A-
    12 Product Image Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic A-
    13 Product Image Flora Udo’s Choice Adult’s Probiotic A-
    14 Product Image Trunature Digestive Probiotic A-
    15 Product Image Nature’s Bounty Ultra Strength Advanced Probiotic 10 A-
    16 Product Image Florastor A-
    17 Product Image Equate Probiotic A-
    18 Product Image Jarrow Formulas Jarro-Dophilus EPS A-
    19 Product Image Nature’s Way Primadophilus Kids A-
    20 Product Image Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic Formula B+

    1. This is a great list, and thank you for sharing. I want to point out to those, however, who have an inflammatory/auto-immune issue triggered by Streptococcus to be very careful to read every ingredient on the brand of pro/pre-biotics they take. If it contains Streptococcus, find one that doesn’t.

    2. That’s a terrible way to judge a probiotic. Check this guide:

  5. VSL#3 is excellent. Yes expensive but Medicare and my supplementary insurance covers the prescription strength. I pay $25 a month for co-pay. Pharmacy told me at first that I was not covered and was paying $320 a month. Very smart worker in the pharmacy at COSTCO told me he was covered. So I got a prescription and was covered. Talk to your doctor, Cecile

  6. Dr. Perlmutter’s Mood Probiotic (produced by Garden of Life) helps alleviate my depression (along with 5-HTP, Life Extension Foundation’s Magnesium L-Threonate, and Nordic Naturals fish oil). Whole Foods and health food stores in Indianapolis, IN charge too much for the Mood Probiotic. But sometimes it goes on sale at Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market and that’s when I stock up. ConsumerLab has tested many probiotics for efficacy. They charge a small fee for a year’s subscription and produce many helpful efficacy-related reports on various supplements.

  7. Have you ever heard of Perfect Biotic’s? You buy them online? I just bought them. They got good reviews, but not sure if they are regulated. Thank you.

  8. No association with Jarrow but I have used their Probiotic for years. No negative effects and NO problem when used upset stomach or sore stomach. All is normal after taking it.

    I kinda believe it works but have no evidence accept the above and the only one I will use as it also passes my requirement (no gelatin) and the other requirements of experts necessary to have probiotic work (like bacteria count) PLUS no refrigeration required, AND reasonably priced.

  9. VSL seems to have some questionably ingredients! And I’m not sure how that makes the trip from Italy without suffering quality issues. GutPro or KlaireLabs have much cleaner products in my opinion.

    1. I have used various probiotics and I can tell you that none comes close to VSL. VSL is the only probiotic which is clinically proven to work. Some people complain that VSL is expensive, but one pouch can last me up to a week, because it’s that strong. Which ingredients do you find questionable? The cornstarch used in the product is non-GMO.

    This Probiotic has saved me and a lot of my friends. Diversity of strains, total bacteria count and protection of the probiotics are the key elements in a powerful probiotic. While many products on the market deliver a high total probiotic count, they often are only coming from one or two bacterial strains. In contrast, Nutriclean Probiotics provides ten carefully selected bacterial strains each of which play a unique role to help your body maintain bacterial balance to support optimal digestive health. In addition, Nutriclean Probiotics features LiveBac® and Biotract® technologies, which are both patented delivery forms that help keep probiotics alive during both bottling and throughout the digestive process, thus maximizing its effectiveness. Might be worth checking out. You over all health starts in your gut.

  11. I am very interested in the Nutriclean probiotics you suggested, Sharon. I cannot tolerate any milk based probiotic and I have a high histimine sensitivity so therefore cannot eat or drink anything fermented. Where can I find this product, please?

  12. This is completely off subject, but what are your thoughts on Crispr and whether or not one should still consider this to be a GMO whenever it finally hits stores?

  13. While traveling in Turkey I was given a locally grown peach our guide purchased at the market. I wasn’t planning to eat it because we weren’t supposed to drink the water. That night I was so hungry that I washed it in tap water and ate it. The next morning I had an upset tummy and a bad case of diarrhea. I was very worried because right after lunch we were scheduled to spend 2 hours in a museum followed by a 5 hour bus ride to the next city. I didn’t think there was any way I was going to handle that since I needed to use the toilet every 30 minutes. I’d been taking my daily serving of GI-ProBalance by Mannatech and decided to take an extra serving every 30 minutes. By noon my tummy ache was gone and I had hope. I made it through the museum and bus ride with no incident and felt totally normal. Does that mean my probiotic is a good one or do I still need to do the milk test?

  14. VSL#3 is also one of my favorite probiotics to prescribe to my patients. The actual colony count is 112.5 billion not 10 billion ( I am sure it must be a typo in the article). I agree with this article and I have evaluated the medical literature as well on this probiotic. The evidence is very compelling for its effectiveness to treat Chron’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS. If one capsule is too strong, use only half the capsule. It can be sprinkled on anything, no taste, no flavor, no smell. Kids do great with this. It does come in packets and based on my patient’s feedback, the packets taste gross. Cheapest price in Charlotte, NC is Costco and Sam’s Pharmacies. If you have a high deductible plan, get a prescription from your doctor for the over the counter dose and you can use your HSA card to pay for it. Furthermore, you can use the Costco pharmacy even if you are not a member. I also agree that probiotics are not regulated. Thus, I choose supplements that have a strong medical evidence. Thanks Food Babe and Dr. Shah for this information. In good health, Ana-Maria Temple, MD

  15. I purchase bio kult probiotics. I actually make my own yogurt, and I ran out of my previous batch before I made a new one,so I didnt have any starter. I put a capsule of biokult in to see if it would work as a starter. And the next day I had yogurt. Ergo, I did this test before Food babe wrote this article. Bio kult is also recommended by many Weston Price bloggers. And it is very affordable compared to a few other probiotics i have found “viable” Prescript assist being another one. Which is still cheaper than vsl 3. Just thought i’d give a few more options for those on a tight budget. And gmo free or not, I am not a fan of cornstarch which is in vsl.

    1. Audrey, as you’ve found with your resulting success from using a probiotic to make yogurt, it’s a good way to increase the health value of yogurt.

      I’ve used the powder of a capsule or two of Mercola’s probiotics, and also beadlets available from Dr. Whittaker to make yogurt. The beadlets were a pain to use since the are designed to not dissolve until they move beyond the stomach. Once you get them out of the encapsulation, they are a waxy consistency and need to be crushed and mixed with some of the warm milk before incorporating into the rest of the milk.

  16. it seems by the comments that we are missing the point. The point is you can’t trust a pill. So stop asking if your brand is ok, just go out and buy fermented foods (or make them yourselves), kefir, yogurt etc. That’s what people did for years before we tried to replace them with pills.

  17. Hi Amy
    I have had a Colectomy and have tried numerous probiotics. I’m glad I had the surgery– for colonic inertia— do I open the probiotic capsule or just drop it in milk? I’ve had a lot of stomachaches since the surgery– dr doesn’t know why. I’ve had Cts of the abdomen– looks normal. My milk hasn’t changed—
    I might order the ones you mention–

  18. Amy I checked the price of the vsl that you recommend – on Amazon- it is sooo expensive!!! Geez. Is there a cheaper one that works— I can’t afford that price.

  19. so….i went to the company website (seaford) to buy it directly from them as I am canadian. They no longer (I mean at least 6years!) make this product? So who is making it to be sold online still? The company says they themselves do not make it…That is concerning….I would review this referral or contact them to ensure the product being promoted is actually the product that is being purchased. Please let me know if you get a different answer to the response then I did. Again…I called the company directly!

  20. Always love medicine in the form of food….So I vote for #3 Food-based Probiotics
    LOVE making my own probiotics in the form of Kefir, yogurt , cultured vegetables, cultured fruits and my most favorite ‘Living Breads’ pure sourdough breads from fresh ground organic flours with long slow fermentation that is filled with amazing probiotics and prebiotic goodness. 🙂

  21. My husband had severe stomach issues and horrible bloating and gas. He tried VSL# 3 and it made it even worse, didn’t help at all. I went through a few and finally what did it was a combination of digestive enzymes and Bio-Kult probiotic. It is much superior. I am actually surprised that the inactive ingredients in VSL#3 were not discussed here:

    Lactic acid bacteria‚ microcrystalline cellulose‚ stearic acid‚ magnesium stearate‚ hydroxylpropylmethycellulose (HPMC vegetarian capsule)‚ silicon dioxide‚ non-fat dry milk.

    My problem is with the Cellulose (saw dust??) magnesium stearate is a horrible additive (google it) and so is the filler silicon dioxide – Bio-Kult doesn’t have any of these.

  22. Hello, World,

    I currently take Garden of Life Raw proboitics for improve gut bacteria. As well as Garden of Life Raw for women vitimans. I have GERD reflux, several allergies including allergies induced asthmas, migraines, body aches and pains; and POS cysts syndrome. I take these supplements because I do not get enough daily requirements from foods and lack in the nutritional values. I try my best to eat whole and healthy foods daily, but still lack the amount required for my body. I have noticed an improvement in my overall body well-being. It depends on what works for your system. Some brands or guide lines help some people, whereas some do not. The body will let individual know what works for him/herself.

    Thanks and Have A Wonderful Day.

  23. I found one that I’ll take forever since it’s the very first time I’ve actually noticed several differences in myself, my hubby and one of our boys!! LOVE it!!

    Here’s every single ingredient in it: 
    ProBio5 Probiotics Blend – 100 mg
    Bacillus Coagulans
    Lactobacillus Acidophilus
    Lactobacillus Planterum
    Bifodobacterium Longum
    Saccharomyces Boulardii
    ProBio5 Proprietary Enzyme Blend – 200 mg
    Chitosanase (from Bacillus Coagulans)
    Serrapeptase (as Peptizyme SPTM)
    Grape Seed Extract – 25 mg
    Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine hydrochloride) – 2.5 mg
    Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) – 150 mg
    Brown rice powder
    Contains yeast

    My chiropractor (holistic health nut who I adore) agrees that this is the best one she’s seen too! Hoorayyyyyy!

    1. HI you recommended that product some years ago Is it still on your top list? Where can it be bought? thanks for your reply.

  24. I’m late to reading this article but hopeful that I can still get a response. I started taking probiotics over thirty years ago before most knew what it was. I was told I had IBS and to just watch what foods gave me an issue. Well that was the usual poor advice I usually receive from a doctor and truly unhelpful since everything gave me issues depending on the day. Meaning I could eat a food one day without an issue and the next time I ate it I would have an issue. Anyway after doing lots of my own research I started taking probiotics and they made a huge difference in the constant constipation/diarrhea cramping issues I was having. Over the years I have tried many different brands but have been using a company now called Probacto which is online 13.6 Billion CFUs per serving and they list all their ingredients. However I still would like to do the home test to make sure it is a good brand. I never saw an answer to whether or not you should put the capsule in the milk or empty the contents into the milk. Can anyone give me an answer to this?

  25. Hi I just read all reviews and now I’m more confused than before . My husband has IBS deverticulatis severe reactions for antibiotics he even had sleazier from Avalon . If any body had simulation symptoms or know any holistic doc in ny who knows how to deal with it pls let me know

  26. I LOVE you Foodbabe, but I have to chime in here to help debunk this a bit. There is a ton of AWESOME information in this post, but unfortunately, the “milk test” is simply an inaccurate way of testing for viability and I caution anyone to reach out to their probiotic brand’s manufacturer to gain a better understanding of the strains in the formula you’re taking before tossing.

    Most Lactobacillus strains do not grow well in milk, which means that the “milk test” is not a viable way to test the active organisms. I work for a manufacturing facility that has lab tested with the milk test (out of curiosity because this concept has gained popularity on the internet) and the results were inaccurate when compared to our other viability testing. Lactobacillus strains and Bifidobacteria strains have different potencies once they’re fermented for probiotic tableting, which can affect when you might see when placed in milk. There are certain strains like Streptococcus thermophilus and other active yeasts and soil based organisms which will grow in milk; however, this method of testing has not been able to prove that the probiotic organisms are alive. In order to prove there are live organisms a lab must test via specific lab procedures which can rarely be performed in a home environment.

    As well, there are delivery technologies available in which a gel matrix forms around a probiotic tablet when it comes in contact with fluids. This is a time-release delivery process growing in popularity among high-quality probiotic brands that allows the live bacteria to gradually release from the tablet’s core over an 8-10 hour period without artificial fillers and without chemical coatings. However, because of this protection, you might not see any reaction when you place it in milk. Again a sign of this testing being incredibly shaky at best. While I think it is absolutely imperative that consumers do their research when taking probiotics and avoid anything artificial, it is possible to find a natural, shelf-stable supplement with diverse, viable strains that aren’t freeze dried and don’t react with milk. Thanks to technology, you really can find a viable supplement without refrigeration, though I would be certain you look into the processing and tableting methods of the brand you take to discover what hidden toxins could be lurking in your supplement. I would also urge you to contact your brand’s customer support team to learn more before you toss an expensive bottle of life-supporting probiotics!

  27. Someone who works at a vitamin place said that some probiotics won’t work in this test because they’re freeze dried and the probiotics that are freeze dried don’t react til it touches your bile. Is this true Food Babe or is this a load of crap?

  28. This test seems a little insufficient to me. If you leave a glass of milk out for 24-48 hours, it’s going to curdle no matter what. It seems to me the probiotic is viable if you get yogurt, but not viable if it just curdles instead.

  29. The “milk test” described on websites will not reliably tell you if a probiotic supplement contains viable organisms or not. The “test” is often described as checking for the formation of curds or clumps a day or two after putting the contents of a probiotic supplement into a small amount of milk and leaving it at room temperature.

    It is true that certain probiotic bacteria can cause milk to clump, but not all probiotic bacteria will do this in the “milk test.” Clumping in milk is caused when proteins (which are normally free floating) join together when the milk becomes acidic. Certain probiotic bacteria can make milk more acidic by fermenting lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid — the process used to create yogurt, kefir, and cheese. A significant amount of lactic acid has to be produced to make the milk acidic enough for it to curdle.

    Probiotic bacteria which can convert lactose to lactic acid include those of the genus Lactobacillus (such as L. acidophilus). However, another common genus of probiotic, Bifidobacterium (such as B. animalis, also called Bb12), can only do this conversion when little oxygen is present and would, therefore, fail to curdle milk in the “milk test.”

    Some harmful bacteria, such as species of Streptococcus, can also digest lactose and curdle milk, which could mislead you to believe that only healthful bacteria are present.

    The enzyme, chymosin (also known as rennin) can also cause milk to curdle by acting directly on proteins. It is commonly used in making cheese. The “milk test” has been misleadingly used to promote probiotic products in which chymosin has been added as an ingredient because the “test” will show the product to curdle milk relatively quickly. This, of course, does not prove that the probiotic organisms are present and active.

    The milk test is also not valid when using tablets which have not been crushed (they are only expected to properly break apart when subjected to heat and agitation, as in the stomach), particularly chewable tablets, or those with enteric coatings which would first need to have their coatings removed. If the probiotic organisms cannot be released and exposed to the milk, they won’t be active.

  30. Some bacteria will not culture in milk. One of them is lactobacillus rhamnosus aka Culturelle. This was mentioned by John in a longer post but I thought I would just make it short so people skimming would see it.

  31. Dear Vani, directly to my question- you support eating foods for probiotics but most of the bacteria in these foods are killed in the stomach and do not reach the intestines. However, I know mankind has lived without probiotic pills for most of its’ existence so fermented foods must work. So it leaves me confused. Any more info appreciated. Chris

  32. Indeed! I don’t find any reliable resources about probiotics supplements. I’m a bit worried that I might purchase the wrong one as I’m thinking to give it to my kids too, do you have any additional recommended probiotics for the kids? If yes, can you share it here? Another useful information I found is this one too if anyone is interested, you can check it out maybe it could benefit the readers. Thank you!

  33. many types of gut flora will not curdle milk. some wont do it in the presence of oxygen. the only way I have found to know if probiotics are effective is a. anecdotally, and b. to test the stool, before and after taking supplement.

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